Monday, January 19, 2015

Creating a High School Literature Curriculum ~ Post by Post {Mondays}

One of my best academic experiences in high school was studying great works of literature. I loved reading and the classics so much, in fact, that I went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. So when my husband and I started our homeschooling journey about ten years ago, I was eager to explore those great works with my own children someday.

But as our oldest child began the high school years this past fall, the curriculum we were using just didn’t include many of those great works and nothing in full book format. When the lesson plans included an excerpt from Winnie the Pooh, I knew we needed to make a change.

I have been blessed with children {so far!} that love to read. My oldest, now a 15yo, came to me a few weeks ago asking what classics she should read. What an amazing opportunity to reread and study again those classics that so inspired and shaped me all those years ago!

The conjunction of those two events certainly seemed Heaven-sent. J What better way to make the right change than to create the curriculum myself? And what better way to keep myself accountable as well as ratchet up the fun than to include you?

My daughter is halfway through ninth grade already, so the list of what we’ll be reading is a little short. Next year, tenth grade, will be a full year of study.

Please keep in mind that this is for high school students. My daughter was 14 when she began ninth grade. Now, mid-year, she’s 15. She’s innocent, but she’s not na├»ve. Some things are better discussed within the safety of a healthy parent-child relationship rather than discovered once the child is grown and gone. Please, though, feel free to skip a book if you think it’s inappropriate, but also know that this study will have a Christian emphasis. We’ll be asking questions from a faith-based perspective.

Our Ninth Grade Literature List ~

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Mark Twain
Robert Frost's Poems (selected)
The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane
Farenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

How did I choose what my high school student will read?

  • I researched other curriculum and online book lists, particularly on Goodreads.
  • I pulled from my own experience, what I read and enjoyed and seemed powerful to me at the time. What has stuck with me through the years. Of course, it’s easier to lead a study when you’ve already read the book. J
  • I prayed and considered the faith with which we’re bringing up our children. Some books I studied in high school were rather graphic, like Lord of the Flies. They could provide some interesting discussion points and lessons to be learned, but I felt checked not to include them just yet. 

Of course, memory fades. So I can’t promise that I won’t change course if something comes up in a book that seems inappropriate that didn’t when I studied it before. Consider that my disclaimer. J

So, what will we cover?

Most of these books we’ll take three weeks to study. {Robert Frost’s three poems get one week total, and to finish by the end of June, some will only get two weeks.}

In the first week’s post, we’ll have an introduction to the author and perhaps some historical context, something about the history of the setting or the time period of the story.

In the second post, I’ll list discussion questions. Use them with your student however you’d like, and we can discuss in the comment section of this blog all you want. J

In the third and final post, I’ll give a possible writing assignment for the end of that book’s study.

Lastly, where do we find the books?

  • Library
  • Amazon {Several classics are free for kindle. Just be sure to check the price before you download. I surely would appreciate it if you used my affiliate link on the sidebar.}
  • Thrift stores
  • Used book stores

I am super excited about this series, and I hope you are, too! Whether you’re homeschooling high school right now, will be in the future, wanting to supplement a private or public school curriculum, or just want to re-read the classics for your own enjoyment or edification, I’m glad you’re here!

Will you read along? How many have you or your child read already?

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  1. I'm going to follow you along on this. I really struggle with Literature for my children. They read everything. They've read a lot of what you've listed already. I really struggle to keep them in books. In fact, I had to forbid my daughter to read "A Tale of Two Cities" just so I could have a new-to-her book to use in school. They don't just read them either. They discuss them with me and each other. The latest book in our house that our two oldest have just read was "Animal Farm". That provoked some thinking. I think this series is great.

    1. Our children sound exactly alike, Jennifer. :-) My 15yo wants me to decide now which books we'll study in the next four years of high school so that she'll wait to read them. I have a huge list of possibilities, but I haven't narrowed them down for 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. "A Tale of Two Cities" is on the list! :-) Thanks so much for following, and I look forward to our book discussions!

  2. Our daughters are the same age, Meghan. :) Mine loves to read just as much. Here is our reading list for this year: "The Cat of Bubastes", " The Art of War", "Julius Caesar", "The Imitation of Christ", "Here I Stand", "A Tale of Two Cities", "North and South", "The Hiding Place", "Animal Farm", "Bridge to the Sun", "Cry, the Beloved Country", & "The Abolition of Man." --Here's what we've already read: "Little Women", "Tom Sawyer", "Huckleberry Fin", "Robert Frost Poems", "Frankenstein" (my daughter has never seen the movie just read the book)"Gulliver's Travels", "The Swiss Family Robinson", "Pride and Prejudice", "A Wrinkle in Time", (kind of young but still good) & "The Giver." I think we've even read more than these I just can't remember them all.
    And there are still so many more great reads to get through. I don't think four years is going to be enough. :)

    1. As I've brainstormed my list, many of your titles are on there, many have already been consumed by my teen, and I've also despaired that high school is not long enough to read all that ought to be absorbed and analyzed and applied. You've listed a few new ones for me. I'll look them up, and thanks for commenting! :-)

  3. How exciting! Yay! This will be fun! :)

    1. Sarah, I was hoping you would join in! So glad to see you here, friend! :-)

  4. How exciting for your daughter! All of these books are great! She'll love them. I'm glad to see "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee on there. :). Good luck! I can't wait to see her response to each individual books as she looses herself in the plotlines. Maybe she could share some guest blogs for us on her "book reviews." Bet there is a lesson in writing book reviews there.

    1. There will definitely be writing assignments and book reports, Kelly. I'm still brainstorming how best to share some of her work. :-) I'm excited that you're here! Looking forward to your input!

  5. Which book will be first? Is the idea to read it in a week then do the other things?

    1. Good morning, Laura! The books are listed in order. Because each person's reading speed differs as well as schedule constraints and many other factors, I didn't want to detail a specific time frame for reading. You can go at your own pace and use my discussion questions however and whenever you wish. Thanks for the question! :-)


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